Revd Dr Rae Caro

The Curate Writes

Monday 23rd December 2019

Christmas

On Christmas Eve an excited little boy is encouraged to hang a stocking by the fireplace. His eyes are filled with wonder and he looks up at his parents and asks “well how’s the baby Jesus going to fit in there then?”. The child’s appreciation of Jesus as their own personal gift is touching. It’s a reminder that the gifts we receive from God are beyond measure, beyond price and beyond the dimensions of a Christmas stocking.

Mary was the first to receive the gift of Jesus. As far as we know, Mary was not well regarded by society and nothing was expected for her future. You might think you know her, from art and music but I think she might surprise you. She is not meek, mild and obedient. She is strong, prophetic and faithful. When visited by an angel she is put in an unenviable position. To receive the gift that God has picked out for her she will need to sacrifice her plans, her reputation and even her security to bear this special child. Despite the whispers and potential scandal she embraces her vocation as the mother of the messiah.

It strikes me that the traditional Mary we have received is almost like an airbrushed-instagram Mary. Where is the blood? Where is the dirt? Where are the tears? I feel like she should be on the cover of a dreadful magazine with the headline “Mary’s Christmas miracle- welcoming guests hours after giving birth in a spotless stable”. When we break down the artifice, when we look for the substance behind the style, we see Mary’s seemingly endless strength and resilience and I stand here in awe of her. In my view, courage on this scale can only have one source: it is God given. The gift she gives in return is her motherhood, her body and her blood.

I think it was probably a good thing that Jesus was welcomed by the spectacle of a choir of angels as I’m sure the visitors to any newborn will testify- they don’t do much. Jesus had not begun his incredible healing ministry, he had performed no miracles of his own, he had shared no parables. He was just lying, feeding and sleeping as babies do. The gift that Jesus brings the shepherds is simply his presence and yet it is enough. God reaches out to a broken world by becoming divinely vulnerable. Jesus shows us that there are times perhaps through illness, depression or financial stress when all we can offer others is our presence and share our vulnerability, the gift of being ‘real’ with others should not be underestimated.

Jesus is like one of those presents where the tag gets lost. It’s easy to forget who Jesus is for. It’s so easy to think “Jesus is just for those churchy people” or to worry about what people will think if we pick up that Jesus gift and dare to say “I think this might be for me”. Isaiah foretells the birth of the saviour, not to those who are comfortable but to those who are broken. Hear his words:

The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness—
on them light has shined.

He goes on to tell us that even those who have been trampled down by others will rejoice, no more will people be exploited, they will be safe from their enemies. A child has been born, a mighty God who will rule from the throne of David forever. Many people still live in a land of deep darkness, despair, loneliness and exploitation. And yet, God reaches out and says ‘No more, my son is coming to bring justice and peace even in the midst of your trouble’.

No matter the size of your stocking or what the day may bring, God has the most amazing gift with your name on it, why not open it and see what’s inside?

Merry Christmas